At the heart of the great years of tobacco companies

Tobacco companies have played an important role in motorsport for many years.

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Always present in the F1 circus, Agnes Carlier lived through this era, having worked for a long time as a press officer for Philip Morris, who notably sponsored Ferrari and its great star Michael Schumacher.

Ms Carlier started in 1981 in F1 when the Marlboro brand was associated with McLaren

The wind changes direction

“The budgets weren’t that important, but our Italian boss was passionate about motorsport and that was reflected in the company’s communication,” she says. Our advertisements took up a lot of space on the side of the cars and we developed an aesthetic side that did not exist. At one point, we had 18 pilots wearing our colours. Nelson Piquet is one of the few who has never been sponsored by Marlboro. »

Ms. Carlier felt the tide turn at the end of the 1990s. “When American lawyers came to my office in 1998 and asked me to destroy all the photo archives, I felt things were changing,” he says. -she. It was time to leave. »

“Politicians have never wanted to understand that the advertisements of tobacco companies were not intended to attract young people, but to take away market share from their competitors,” continued the journalist from the Japanese press agency Kyodo. It was easier to stop the ads. »

Craig Polock’s Appeal

The phone quickly rang. “Craig Pollock invited me to join the BAR team, which was just beginning its activities. It’s a fairy tale to be able to design everything from scratch. We had no tyres, engine and driver. Jacques Villeneuve was subsequently hired. »

Press officer in French ministerial offices, Ms. Carlier made the jump to F1 to spend more time with her husband, who was sports director of Le Parisien and author of F1 Guestbook. “We met at Roland-Garros in 1974 and after a few years, my husband told me that I should look for a job in the sports world otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see each other. It was then that I was interviewed by Philip Morris, who hadn’t had a press officer for ten years. They were traumatized because their former attaché had died on duty. »

Ms. Carlier discovered the Grand Prix du Canada through Robert Ferland, the first promoter of the event, brother of Jean-Pierre Ferland and friend of her husband.

Ms. Carlier is still as passionate about F1 after more than five decades. “I have F1 in my skin, she summed up. I was attached to the fathers of Schumacher and Verstapen. »

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